Vanuatu Independence Day is celebrated on July 30 every year by the Republic of Vanuatu. This holiday commemorates Vanuatu’s independence from the joint rule of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and France, which occurred on July 30, 1980. Formerly called New Hebrides, Vanuatu had labored under the rule of both European powers for about 74 years, and began to advocate for independence during the 1970s. The November 1979 elections produced Prime Minister Walter Lini and independence was then scheduled for July 30, 1980, after which the Anglo-French troops finally withdrew from Vanuatu.
History of Vanuatu Independence Day
Vanuatu gained independence from Great Britain in 1980. British interference with Vanuatu began in July 1774 when Captain James Cook — a British explorer — arrived on the islands. He investigated the islands from July to September 1774, eventually naming them ‘New Hebrides’ —a reference to the Hebrides off Scotland’s west coast. From 1839 onwards, a growing number of Europeans — mostly Protestant and Roman Catholic missionaries — arrived in the New Hebrides in an attempt to convert the islanders to Christianity. Cotton, coffee, cocoa, bananas, and coconuts were among the commodities brought in by British subjects from Australia. French settlers followed in their footsteps, and by 1906, the French population outnumbered the British population by 173.
In 1906, both the British and French governments made an agreement called Anglo-French Condominium to jointly administer the islands. The Anglo-French Condominium entailed the simultaneous operation of two legal, governmental, judicial, and financial systems. Native Vanuatu citizens, on the other hand, were not permitted to become citizens of either country. In addition, the victims were subjected to other forms of labor exploitation. Due to the fall of France to Germany during World War II, the British acquired the upper hand on the islands. When the war drew to a close, the now-ineffective Condominium government struggled to reassert its authority.
In the 1970s, movements and agitation for independence began, with the native people forming their own parties. After several elections which turned out to be unsuccessful, a compromise was brokered between the Anglo-French and the native parties. Independence was scheduled for July 30, 1980, while elections were held between the two major parties. Now renamed the Republic of Vanuatu, New Hebrides gained independence on July 30, 1980, under a new government led by Prime Minister Walter Lini.
Vanuatu Independence Day timeline
The Vanuatu islands are settled by people of the Lapita culture.
The islands of Vanuatu are christened ‘New Hebrides’ by British explorer Captain James Cook.
New Hebrides gains independence from Britain, becoming the Republic of Vanuatu.
The Lapita sites become Vanuatu’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Vanuatu Independence Day FAQs
What language is spoken in Vanuatu?
The official languages of Vanuatu are Bislama, English, and French, though Vanuatu has many other languages.
Who is the president of Vanuatu?
The President of Vanuatu is Tallis Obed Moses while the Prime Minister is Bob Loughman.
What are people from Vanuatu called?
People from Vanuatu are referred to as ‘Ni-Vanuatu’ or ‘Vanuatuan.’
How to Observe Vanuatu Independence Day
Post the Vanuatu flag
You can celebrate with the people of Vanuatu by posting a picture of their flag on your socials. While you’re at it, wish them a Happy Independence Day.
Study the culture of Vanuatu
Celebrate this special day by learning a little more about the culture of Vanuatu. Learn the peculiarities of their lifestyle, dressing, food, and history.
Learn a Vanuatu word
Learn a new term in Vanuatu to make it even more enjoyable. Learn how to say 'good morning' and 'goodbye'
5 Interesting Facts About Vanuatu
Vanuatu is a least-visited country
Vanuatu is one of the least-visited countries in the world, with only 95,000 visitors per year.
Vanuatu is home to Mount Yasur
Located in Vanuatu, Mount Yasur is the most accessible active volcano in the world.
Vanuatu is one of the happiest places
Vanuatu is number four in the list of the world’s happiest countries.
Vanuatu has many languages
Vanuatu has over a hundred languages.
Prince Phillip is Loved
The Prince Philip Movement in Vanuatu is a religious sect that believes that Prince Phillip is divine.
Why Vanuatu Independence Day is Important
It celebrates independence
We love this national holiday because it celebrates the independence of a people and acknowledges their right to self-government. Every country has a right to sovereignty and self-determination.
It reminisces history
This holiday gives the people of Vanuatu a chance to reflect and ruminate on the lessons to be learned from history. Understanding one’s history is a key to avoiding mistakes in one’s future.
It honors independence heroes
Those who tirelessly and selflessly fought for independence deserve a special day to honor and celebrate their sacrifice. Some were prosecuted and others, unfortunately, lost their lives during the struggle. This independence day allows us to honor and venerate those heroes.
Vanuatu Independence Day dates